Ron “Tater Salad” White is back with a brand new special, and fans of the venerable, cigar and scotch soaked Southerner will not be disappointed. For almost ninety minutes, Tater Salad riffs on food, pop culture, Vegas, sex, Dr. Phil, and sex again in his signature blue collar drawl. Seriously, for a man that became famous touring on the family friendly Blue Collar comedy this special is hilariously filthy. While I would say, “A Little Unprofessional” isn’t going to bring any new Tater Salad fans to the table, it’s definitely a funny addition to his catalog. But also what do I know? “A Little Unprofessional” is nominated for a Grammy for Best Comedy Album, Tater Salad’s third nomination.
Ruminations, theorizations and stuff
In 2012, comedian Nathan Anderson had an idea. Standup memes were floating around the Internet, but without structure. With the popularity of the website reddit skyrocketing, Anderson decided to create a centralized location for undiscovered comics to post material. People could get a quick laugh, and unknown comics could get exposure.
/r/standupshots, a subset of reddit, was a success. Comics saw their jokes going viral; some were reposted by George Takei on Facebook (5,000,000+ followers and growing), and some (like yours truly, a big fan of the outlet) had some jokes go viral, and others make it to The Huffington Post.
Unfortunately, Anderson wasn’t happy.
Using the meme format he championed with his creation, Anderson delivered a scathing review of the very site hosting his handiwork, seen here.
With that post, something interesting happened: his post made it’s way to the front page of reddit, garnered tons of exposure, and /r/standupshots exploded in numbers, currently topping 100,000 subscribers.
Rooftop used same-named comedian Nathan Timmel to discuss all things meme with Nathan Anderson.
NT: When you left, it didn’t look like burning a bridge, it looked like a demolition. How long at the idea of walking away from your creation been growing in you?
NA: I always knew I wanted to get away from it somehow. It was never something I really cared about; just something I set up because I was the one who knew how. Regardless of the subreddit, mods burn out eventually. Doing it well turns reddit into a full-time job for no money, subject to constant criticism. It was cutting into my real passion – telling dick jokes to drunk bachelorette parties.
NT: /r/standupshots popularity and visibility really increased because of your post. Do you feel this is a situation that went from negative turned positive, or do you believe the same problems exist that made you leave?
NA: I knew it would get some visibility, and in the short term it was definitely positive. But reddit has a short attention span, and the larger problems with the site remain publicly unaddressed. If those don’t change, reddit won’t die and may even grow slowly. But in terms of cultural relevance, it’ll turn into another early-decade web fad like somethingawful or 4chan.
NT: Any thoughts of returning?
NA: Only as a lurker, and only to look up specific information. Reddit is a huge site, so the fact that /r/funny sucks doesn’t mean /r/malefashionadvice or /r/fitness can’t be useful. It’s my go-to site for information on shoes.
NT: What sort of feedback have you received?
NA: Comics understand and supports me, even if they don’t post to the site. Those are the people I care about. There’s a few career moderators on reddit who are pissed at me, but they’re dicks so fuck ‘em.
NT: You were worried that fewer submitters would kill the site, but with your post there are more submitters and subscribers than ever; how do you feel about that?
NA: I’m glad it worked out. It’ll be fine as long as it keeps expanding, but it’s like a shark. If it doesn’t constantly pull in more people, they’ll move on to something else.
NT: Steve Hofstetter described the group as “An open microphone with 100,000 people in the audience.” Even without posts making it to the front page, do you think there could have been value in comics posting for other comics; a place for peer feedback on jokes?
NA: It definitely has value for that, and long as comics are willing to sort the useful comments from the typical reddit jackassery. I just hope comics realize that a joke that does well on standupshots still has to do well onstage. The karma is nice, but it doesn’t mean anything if no one laughs in real life.
NT: You understood the power of the meme, and joked it was the future of comedy; do you feel it is the present of comedy now?
NA: It depends on when and where you are. If you’re a broke college kid, or living in a town without access to stagetime, it’s more useful than doing nothing. But I always felt the final goal was getting people to watch videos, or come to real shows. For comics, internet pictures shouldn’t be an end in themselves.
In November 2013, Rooftop Comedy put out Scott Long’s 2nd Comedy CD, Good Dad, Not a Great Dad.
On December 31st, Angie Frissore graded it an “A” for Under the Gun Reviews, stating: “I’ve listened to and reviewed 52 comedy albums in 2013, but Scott Long’s is probably the one that touched me most.”
Generally, Rooftop puts out an interview with the comic to push the release, but with Nathan Timmel penning the article, they got something a little different: Nathan and Scott are old friends, so instead of an interview, a conversation took place.
Rooftop was able to listen in as they waxed nostalgic, fought Nathan’s toddler, and even discussed the new CD.
NT: I suppose we should start with the fact we’ve known one another…
SL: Fifteen years.
NT: Fifteen years… and we met in St. Cloud, Minnesota, at a place that has gone to the comedy graveyard, Rum Runners. And it was around for… well over a decade.
SL: I’m guessing at least two decades.
NT: And the amount of comedians who passed through there over the years…
SL: Oh, yeah. It would be the usual suspects of the Upper Midwest, like Louie Anderson, Tom Arnold, K.P. Anderson… people who came out of that scene, the Minneapolis scene.
NT: Who all probably traveled to Grand Forks, that had a room for years and years. They hired a permanent host, who would move to Grand Forks and live there and host for 6 months to a year, like a comedy boot camp.
SL: My brother did that for ten months, and I think the most successful comic right now who went through that is Chad Daniels.
NT: And for a smaller town, it was a full-week club, Tuesday…
SL: Wednesday through Saturday. The Westward Ho. The owner, Chris, was a huge supporter of comedy. The best poster I’ve ever been on came from there. “Coming Soon” or “This Month…” it was Mitch Hedberg, Todd Barry, Mario Joyner… and me. It was like the Sesame Street “One of these things is not like the other.”
NT: You’re an Iowa native, is this where you started your comedy career?
SL: No… I graduated from the University of Iowa, got a job, didn’t like that, my girlfriend at the time moved to Indianapolis and I followed her… and now she’s my wife. So that worked out. Anyway, I started my comedy career in Indianapolis, and have just stayed there overall.
NT: What number CD is this for you?
SL: It’s kind of a complicated question, because it’s only my second CD, but I put out two DVDs earlier… so DVDs and CDs, it’s my 4th… and I also put out a book in 200… 2? So… that’s kind of where it’s at. But this CD is different from anything before it, because my act has changed, like my life has changed. I have no doubt in my mind this is the best stuff I’ve ever done, because it seems to reach the audience on a couple different levels. I’m always focused on what’s going to make people laugh, but this is more connective. I’ve always been very macro about the world, because my comedy was influenced by Carlin and Hicks, but then having a daughter with autism, and then twins… it really changed my perspective and focus… I don’t think I get bigger laughs than I used to, but I think when the audience leaves I’ve left more of an impression on them. I’ve reached them on a different level.
NT: Well let’s talk about that… I’ve watched you for fifteen years, and your act has changed numerous times… I’ve seen the version you just recorded, and this time around you used visual enhancement on stage, and I’m wondering how you translated that to an audio CD. Answer that as I run to get my daughter out of the dog food…
*leaves as Scott answers*
SL: I wanted to write a whole new show, and I knew that unlike Louie CK or Bill Burr, I couldn’t just show up at a club and start experimenting…
*loud, loud, loud crying erupts*
SL: Is she hurt?
NT: No, she just really wanted the dog’s food, and mean daddy just put up the baby gate. So you can’t show up and start doing new material…
SL: Right. I have to get good reports all the time, so I did the Indy Fringe Fest, where I could do a one-person show and not have to be funny 100% of the time. It was really freeing, and after doing six shows I felt really comfortable taking the more stand-up elements of it on the road.
NT: And when I saw you, you were using an easel to show the different acts in the performance, and I was wondering how that translated to a disc…
SL: Right, right… it’s gone. I used that for about a year, but after getting to know the material inside and out I brought it back to pure stand up comedy. I enjoyed the “art” aspect to it, the “one-man-show” concept, but with that you’re talking at people, and I wanted to re-incorporate interacting with the audience. I actually hadn’t even planned on recording the CD when I did, to be honest. Rooftop had recorded my shows, and I was watching their videos and Dominic [from Rooftop] contacted me and said, “I think we could make a CD out of this. I think we could make a great CD out of this.” I said, “Really, you could make a CD out of video clips?” So he sent me some of the audio and it sounded fantastic. Better than some of the things I’ve heard on satellite radio…
NT: Oh, I’ve heard some awful things played by people who said, “I spent $2,000 on a sound engineer…”
SL: Right. And in the end I was really happy with the way things turned out.
NT: I want to go back a second to something you said at the outset of developing the act, an inability to do too much new material at a club because you need good reports… I don’t know if casual fans of comedy will know what that means. They might think comics get graded on originality, or if a club sees you’re constantly writing…
SL: The art. The craft. You’re not getting graded on the art of stand up comedy.
NT: I asked an owner once, “What are you looking for out of me?” and was told, “I just listen for laughter; I don’t have time to listen to what you’re saying.” Which really told me where I stood, and that weekend the opening act went up and did the most base, “Hey, who’s drinking tonight, Taco Bell makes you poop” material that you’ve heard a million times, but it didn’t matter because the audience liked it… So in your case, the owner wouldn’t be thinking, “Oh, Scott is bringing new material to my club, he’s working shit out,” they’d think “I don’t hear enough laughter, he’s not coming back.”
SL: And I’ve been doing this a long time, and some of these venues I’ve been to five or six times, which might make you think you’ve earned enough cache with these people to work out material like that, but that’s just not how it works. And look, part of that is on me. If I could sell enough tickets, sell out every show for $25, then would the owner care what the audience sounded like? They’d know people were there to see you.
NT: And I don’t want to make it seem like it’s not our job to get laughter, because it absolutely is, but you’d think that after a few visits you’d get some leeway, but it really can come down to one bad show preventing you from getting invited back.
SL: Which is a big reason why so many comics who have been in the business for a long time don’t really do anything new. They’re afraid; they know what they do works. And the other element of that is that pressure of knowing you have to do well… it really is a “What have you done for me lately business?”
NT: I remember a club owner who isn’t around anymore who would dictate exactly what the comedian was supposed to do to them. If someone showed up with a new closer, he would tell them to do the one he liked.
SL: Look, you really are a dancing monkey unless you can draw, and that’s the one part to this business I’ve never been bitter about. I’ve made certain decisions in my career not to be a Los Angeles or New York comic…
NT: I remember that. You had specific management interested in you, but…
SL: This was one of the most stand up agents in the country at the time, one of the most powerful, and he was legitimately interested in me… as long as I moved to LA. And I couldn’t disagree with anything he said, I get it, but I couldn’t do it. Stand up comedy, entertainment in general is a “me first” business. Everything has got to be “me,” and pushing me out there… but that’s what the new CD is about. I’m a dad, and I have to put my kids first, and it was a quality of life decision. Did I want to raise my kids in New York or LA, or did I want to raise them in the Midwest, where I was raised.
NT: Do you have trouble doing predominantly family-oriented material in front of varied audiences?
SL: No, because I’m not—and no disrespect to these people at all—I’m not doing Ray Romano or Bill Cosby family material. I still have these neurosis, these inappropriate thoughts that I use to write jokes, and that way people who have no kids can still relate to my act.
NT: One of the best compliments I got after a show was when a 21-year-old kid came up to me and said, “I don’t have a kid, I’m not married, and you didn’t talk about anything in my world… but I really loved your set. You were hilarious.” Which made me happy that I was presenting my point of view in a way that was universal, not demographically challenged, to use politically correct language.
SL: Exactly. I mean, I’m very cognizant of trying to stay relevant to the youngest people in the audience. I’m not going to talk about Justin Bieber or Katy Perry and pander, but I do have the thought, “What would twenty-five-year-old Scott think of this joke?” Because ultimately I want everyone to relate to my jokes. I’m not one of those guys who says, “Oh, fuck twenty percent of the audience.” I want the old guy and the hipster to relate to me.
Download Scott’s disc, Good Dad, Not a Great Dad, now.
“You’re a comedian? That must be awesome!”
It’s a familiar response from people who’ve just met someone that calls comedy their full-time job.
On the surface, it’s glamorous: laughter, bright spotlights, and traveling the world. But like sausage-making, the real action is far from pretty. What goes unseen is the struggle undertaken by comedians to perform on that stage.
In his new mini-eBook, Go Home Happy, stand-up veteran and Rooftop contributing blogger Nathan Timmel leads the reader through a funny, pride-swallowing journey navigating the minefield of club owners, booking agents, drunken hecklers, and unexpected friends.
Part fun and games, part sobering insight, Go Home Happy takes the stand-up comedy fan behind Oz’s curtain to reveal the tedious struggles—and rewarding moments—that come with this spotlighted territory.
Here’s an excerpt:
When people cannot handle a particular performer or joke, they sometimes feel the need to offer their opinions loudly, and in the middle of a show. Hecklers, as they are known. These people are instant critics. Hecklers have something to say, and in an age of Twitter and Facebook updates they can share feelings instantly and constantly. They forget what discretion is and demand their opinion be heard, even if it is in direct opposition to the 200 audience members surrounding them, people who happen to be enjoying themselves.
The most odd moments of my act bring out objection in people. Three of the strangest events are:
- Upon the birth of my daughter, I commented on the fact I’d rather have a gay child than one with a food allergy. I happen to love peanut butter, and I’ve always been a friend to the gay community, so I’d rather my daughter be attracted to the same gender than have to give up my vice. Because of that statement, a woman handed in a note stating their son had a food allergy and that she didn’t find my thoughts on the subject funny in the slightest.
- After visiting Iraq and performing for American soldiers stationed in a dangerous war zone, I made the suggestion that to keep the people we care about safe—our mothers and fathers, sons and daughters in uniform—we should bring them home and use prisoners and gang members to fight our wars. My specific punchline was: “If they win, great. If they lose, fuck it, great! Either way, no one we care about gets hurt.” From the back of one comedy club, “Prisoners have rights too, asshole!” was shouted and an angry man stormed out. The crowd was stunned; someone was defending murderers and rapists at the expense of the American military?
- While in the middle of a pro-immigration joke, I was interrupted by a Hispanic woman who began shouting that immigrants were hard-working people, and didn’t deserve to be made fun of. When I pointed out that I had just said exactly that, and that I was making fun of racists who believed otherwise, she went on a five-minute tirade about how wrong it was of me to be talking about immigration when immigrants built America. We were on the same side of the issue, yet she was too drunk (or dim) to understand that. I could barely get a word in edgewise as she babbled on incoherently.
The worst thing about people who cry “Offensive!” at any given topic, is they are generally only offended by their one, personal pet fetish. A comedian can say what they want about any subject, as long as it isn’t the one that “hits too close to home.”
Look at the movie Ted, for example. If you are unfamiliar, it’s a film by Seth MacFarlane, creator of the television show Family Guy. The humor is politically incorrect to say the least, and lewd, rude, and crude to say the most. I loved the movie and laughed to the point of tears throughout it. The film contained jokes about religion, gender roles, drug use, 9/11, and of course, one line involving Lou Gehrig’s disease. In a complaint that made national news, a patron with ALS stated he was enjoying himself up to the point Marky Mark’s character wished the disease upon Joel McHale, but that particular line went “too far.”
Examine that thought process: the man wasn’t upset by jokes about race, religion, 9/11, or homosexuality, because they didn’t apply to him. But when a joke invaded his personal space it was suddenly over the line. Hypocritical? Absolutely. But rarely do people take a moment to scrutinize the whole of any situation; they only understand what angers them, because that’s all that matters.
(It’s only 99-cents)
A few weeks ago my co-worker, Dominic Del Bene, pointed me to a blog post from AdamHammer.com entitled “Where the F*CK have I been???” It’s a good idea to read that first. In it, Adam explains that in 2012, his father went to jail for lewd and lascivious acts with a minor(“some To Catch a Predator type stuff”) where he died. Dealing with the family crisis sent his personal life and career into a tailspin. Depression, alcohol, rage…Not a good combination. I couldn’t believe how raw the story and writing was. It was like getting pounded in a bare knuckle fight and left me feeling like the wind had been knocked out of me. Brutal. It was so crazy that I wanted to know more about the story and how these events have effected Adam’s stand-up and he was gracious enough to answer my questions.
Before the Q/A I wanted to start with something Adam included in an email towards the beginning of our correspondence.
“I should probably mention that I’m so open and honest about this stuff because of Robert Schimmel. I toured with him for a couple of years and the way he got through losing a son to cancer, a messy divorce, his own cancer and all the other shit that happened to him was to talk about it and not seek sympathy, but laughs. It feels better to have people laughing with you than telling you they’re sorry. Unfortunately, that comes with a risk of sounding calloused. The only way to find other people who may have gone through something similar is to talk about it. And just hearing you’re not alone is therapeutic in itself.”
Gotta love Robert Schimmel.
RC(Rooftop Comedy): Did you do jokes about your father before all this happened? What were they
Yes. Sort of. Here’s a video:
RC: How did his role in your life shape your comedy?
-I learned what wasn’t funny from him and did the opposite. My uncles taught me how to make people laugh. My dad wasn’t funny. He tried and failed miserably. The over-parenting I got shaped my rebellion. Which in turn shaped my pursuit of comedy. Only because I never had the patience to learn an instrument. I was never destined to have a desk job.
RC: Are you afraid that your new bits about your father are too dark?
-No. I’m afraid they aren’t worked out enough. I need to make sure I’m making jokes, not getting therapy. There’s no such thing as too dark. And my bits aren’t dark, they’re honest. They’re uncomfortable, but the people that get it, get it.
RC: Do you think this will forever color your comedy in a certain way?
-Which color? Blue? My jokes have colored me blue long before this. I’ve always taken a “question the answers” approach in my joke writing. For over a decade I’ve talked about the positives of drug use, how drunk drivers are safer than sober drivers (67% of all fatal car accidents are caused by sober people), how deadbeat dads don’t get enough credit for giving us great men, how my plan if I get cancer is to run up a massive credit card bill then go to jail. I try to challenge conventional thinking. I think this subject matter falls in line. Not a lot of comics can find the funny in molestation accusations. It’s all just a challenge for me.
RC: Why do you think it’s important to talk about this on stage?
-I think comedy is a great way to find people with common experiences. Like, I didn’t know any other kids tried putting leaves on a broken bone until I heard Brian Regan do a bit about it. That was great. I don’t think anything is important to talk about on stage though. We’re entertainers. Not artists. Not politicians. I just can’t come up with anything as funny as Brian Regan’s leaf bit. So I make jokes about my dead gay dad.
RC: You mentioned on your blog that these events put your comedy career into a
nose dive. Were you ever close to quitting?
-Not quitting. Just grasping at straws. I was on a pretty steady upward trajectory before this shit went down. Then, my momentum drastically changed. I can’t quit. I may never make it. But I can’t quit. It’s been 13 years since I started. Close to 7 since I’ve had a day job. Not only do I not want to quit, I can’t. Try explaining a 7 year gap on your resume when you’re applying for a square job. I got to the point of applying for jobs last year before I had a project come through. Delivery driver jobs and shit. I have a college degree and that’s the only interview I got. The way that I got in the room is that all my cover letter said was “I have a clean driving record. I’ve never been in jail, and I speak English. I’d love to meet you for an interview.” After sending out at least a hundred letters, that’s the one that got me in the room. Luckily I picked up a writing/producing gig and didn’t have to deliver fish.
RC: What advice do you have for comics coping with a personal struggle?
I’m not religious or involved in any 12 step programs but I was dragged into them when I was a teenager and there is one good thing I picked up: accept the things you cannot change. Change the things you can. Have the wisdom to know the difference. Also, save your money. Always save your money. Even if you’re not going through anything draining, save your money. You’re gonna need it.
To keep up with all things Adam Hammer:
Follow him on twitter @AdamHammer
Rooftop contributing writer Nathan Timmel is at it again.
As a straight white male, Nathan fits neatly into the demographic most likely to fear the LGBT community. When ‘Gay Rights’ are being discussed on the news or in the world of politics, white males are generally those opposed to equality.
In his essay Same Same, Nathan describes how an upbringing devoid of homophobia—something unusual for a small Midwest town in the early 1980s—prevented him from falling into the trappings of bigotry. Though various forms of racism and prejudice governed many around him, Nathan maintained the strong belief that all people are equal.
With stories from childhood to current day, Nathan describes:
The intolerance he witnessed in small-town Wisconsin.
Gay bars he tentatively visited in Milwaukee (only to find they put straight bars and their testosterone-soaked clientele to shame).
His own near miss with gay bashing while walking with a friend in Boston.
A run-in with an overly zealous fella at his local gym, someone who held an all-too-obvious interest in Nathan.
Despite surroundings that should have tainted his point of view, Nathan turned a shoulder to the negativity, returning instead to the strong belief instilled in him as a child: love is love, no matter the gender of those involved.
Here’s an excerpt:
I was almost twelve years old when I first learned what homosexuality is. This would have been 1981, before the Internet gave humanity the availability to spread information worldwide instantaneously. I’m betting kids as young as four know what “gay” is today, but back then YouTube and Facebook didn’t exist. Social networking occurred on front porches or in the supermarket, and kids played baseball outside, not on videogame systems. (A truth that could, if I were so bold, lead me down a path involving the obesity epidemic America faces. But I’ll leave that be. For now.)
Though I may not have known what homosexuality was during the first decade of my life, it had still existed around me in a very open way. Every so often my “uncles” James and Tony would visit my family, or we would visit them. They lived together in Chicago, and to my wee little mind it was simply two of my dad’s many brothers living together. The arrangement made sense to me, and when we visited I never exactly put on a Sherlock Holmes cap and poked around: “Why, this apartment seems to have only one bedroom, and said bedroom doesn’t have bunk beds. How odd.”
I really liked Tony, because not only was he flamboyant and fun, he indirectly allowed me to see my very first R-rated movie; Tony has a small part in The Blues Brothers. Because of that fact, my parents allowed me to slide into the theater ahead of the age-17 restriction placed upon the film. Tony isn’t in the credits, which is odd, because he actually has a speaking part. In the French restaurant, when Jake and Elwood are trying to recruit Mr. Fabulous back into the band, Tony is the waiter who says “Wrong glass, sir” to Dan Aykroyd. Give the scene a glance; you can tell he’s gay just by looking at him. Not that it matters, but the second R-rated movie I saw was The Road Warrior, and my first PG movie was Orca, the Killer Whale. I may not remember my wedding anniversary, but I can remember these nuggets of useless information. Yup.
Regardless, as relationships do wane, eventually James and Tony parted ways and the next time we visited I was introduced to my “uncles” James, and Ray. Even as a child, I was not stupid and knew something was amiss. Apparently Ray had been hidden away in a Harry Potter-style closet for many years, my grandparents were adopting full-grown men into their family… or something else was happening. Something I didn’t quite comprehend at such a young age. As James was the constant variable in the two relationships, he was obviously my father’s actual blood relation. Now I had to wonder: who were Tony and Ray?
Amateur comedy competitions turn me off. Not because I have a perfect losing record(3 for 3), but because people want to take this fun thing that I love, and start judging and saying “this person is better than this person. He wasn’t funny, but she WAS!” We’re all offering our uneducated opinion at the end of the day and do we really need to add yet another dimension to make stand-up more difficult?
What’s worse is the contest where the audience “votes.” More accurately, when enthusiastic green comics are blatantly exploited to make money for the promoter. The newbies hustle to get anyone and everyone they know, to the support them and then the audience winds up sitting through a long terrible show where the person they came to see only performed a “tight 5.” There’s an entry fee, the people you bring buy tickets, drink minimums…It all gets a little too skeezy for meezy. The people who come to those shows won’t be leaping at the chance to see you again. This is the kind of stuff that burns me out. Americans love competition. We have to label someone a “loser” and unfortunately, a “winner.”
That being said, I have to begrudgingly acknowledge the positives.
1. Hey, it’s stage time!
2. A packed house! It’s not often that amateur comics can get in front of a good and welcoming crowd.
3. “You have to learn to promote/market yourself!” Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know…It’s a business.
4. The grand prize MIGHT be worth entering.
This is why I was interested in talking to Tim McLaughlin about his competition set. As you’ll see in this clip, his approach is a little different and left me with questions.
How long have you been doing comedy and how would you describe your act?
I have been doing comedy for 3 years. I dont have much of an act, I have lots of jokes but I mainly work them into my set with crowd work, there is no set order of what goes where. So I guess you could say my act is manipulating the crowd into what I want them to say so I can use a joke I’ve written.
What was this contest for and why did you enter?
The contest was to emcee the weekend at Cracker Comedy Club for Charlie Murphy. I entered the contest because I get paid by Morty’s Comedy Joint in Indianapolis to do comedy, and there is a restriction on set by Crackers not allowing Mortys comics to get work at their club. So I went in to win the contest so they had to work me.
What were the results and were you surprised?
I won the contest. I was a little surprised at the results considering I did not do a single written joke during my set, and there were other very good comics on the show that night.
How many people did you bring to the show? How did you promote yourself?
I brought 7 people to see me, and the 7 only came bc a friend from out of town dragged them with him. I did not promote myself at all, after doing this 3 yrs no one I know will come see me anymore. The crowd that night had about 150 people all together.
In your opinion, what are the positives and negatives that come out of comedy competitions?
I don’t see many positives to comedy competitions unless I win, but one positive is it gives people incentive to get their friends out to a show giving you a larger crowd to preform in front of. The negatives of a comedy contest are creating unneeded tension between comics before a show. The fact that comedy is subjective that makes it hard to judge, because what is funny to you may not be funny to someone else sitting right next to you.
Our clip shows you interacting with a crowd member and saying “I don’t want to win this contest.” True, or part of the act?
That is totally true. I was happy I won but I didnt give a shit if I lost. I only sign up for contests like this to get as much stage time as possible. Winning is always fun and makes you feel good inside, but my main goal always is to go out and put on the best show I can for the people there to watch it, whether it be 8 or 800 people they all deserve your best, prize or no prize.
So the prize was opening for Charlie Murphy. How did that go? Do you feel the contest was worth doing in retrospect?
It was a very fun weekend, all the shows were sold out. I got to shut down several hecklers which is my favorite thing to do. The contest was worth doing in the sense that it got me on stage an extra 10 times in a week I would normally have not had those kind of reps.
Congratulations, Tim! Hopefully this will lead to more success in the future!
To keep up with the Mayor of Fart Town(Tim McLaughlin), follow, like and visit his website.
Twitter is @MayorOfFartTown
Each week Emmy Winning Comedian, Paul Mecurio, talks with major celebrities and newsmakers on his podcast, “The Paul Mecurio Show,” revealing something unique about that person, while giving us insight into Paul’s life and view of the world – a world he believes is out to get him and how he thinks he can change or beat that world (so far the score is World: 1,287, Paul: 0). Paul has interviewed “A” list celebrities such as, Paul McCartney, Jay Leno, Bob Costas, Lewis Black and many more. In this interview, Paul asks former Beatle, Paul McCartney where the confidence came from to radically change the band’s sound and direction when they were at the peak of their popularity to create the groundbreaking album, Sgt. Pepper.
Listen to the Paul McCartney interview here.
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Friend of Rootop, Nathan Timmel is releasing his third album. He was kind enough to answer my questions about his efforts and personal material focusing on family life and the struggle to create it.
RT: How long did it take you to generate the material for this album? How do you feel it compares to your previous efforts?
My last CD came out in 2008, so it took me somewhere in the neighborhood of four years to compile the material. If I remember correctly, the one before that came out in 2004, meaning I’m a either a very slow writer, or I’m meticulous.
As far as comparison with previous releases, I cross my fingers that it’s better. Not because anything I’ve done before is “bad,” but my hope is I’m continually improving as a comedian.
RT: Your album is titled Only Slightly Offensive. Have you had any run-ins with offended audience members? How did you handle it?
It’s very rare that I’ve had customers offended, outright heckle, or complain because of a joke in my set. I think–or maybe I hope–that when people enter a comedy club they understand that everything said is in good fun. I called the CD Only Slightly Offensive to hold on to that sensibility, because whoever is listening to it won’t be doing so in a comedy club environment. The title is a play on words, with “Only” and “Slightly” meant to offset one another, hopefully catching the eye. “Wait, is it offensive, or isn’t it?”
There are a couple spots on the CD you can hear the audience give a good groan. It’s the groan that is mixed with laughter, where they’re thinking “I can’t believe he said that” while they giggle. They get that what I’m saying might not be the most politically correct thing in the world, but that I’m not attacking anyone or being hateful.
That said, I’ve discovered that there is always something that will offend someone no matter how innocuous the joke. I received a negative remark on a comment card because of a joke about the possibility of my daughter having a food allergy; years ago I had an audience member scream “Prisoners are people too!” and storm out of the club because I suggested America should use prisoners for landmine clearing in Afghanistan.
What I’ve discovered regarding handling such moments is that the audience is generally on the performer’s side. It’s a case of mob rules, and in a comedy club the mob is there to laugh and have fun. Yes, there can be a stick in the mud who wants to pout because they didn’t like something, but that’s on them. If they’re not in the mood to giggle, there’s not much I can do about that.
RT: You decided on self-releasing this album. Was that process easier or harder than you imagined? What was the biggest challenge?
With modern technology, self-releasing is easier than it’s ever been. The challenge is that because of modern technology, self-releasing is easier than it’s ever been. (See what I did there?)
The problem is legitimacy. It can be somewhat difficult to get taken seriously without a label backing you. As a whole, many people and institutions like the validity backers offer. In the music industry self-releasing is done every day. In the world of comedy, it seems a little different; “Why should I trust you’re funny? You did this yourself.” I attack that stigma by making a professional album. I hired a professional photographer and used a graphic designer for the cover. It wasn’t recorded using my phone, I tied directly to the sound board so my voice would always be crisp. This isn’t something I burned on my computer at home, it has a quality look and sound to it. If someone is going to spend their hard-earned money on me, I want it to be worth it for them.
RT: How would you describe your brand of humor to someone who has never heard you? How long did it take you to find your voice?
I’m generally a storyteller, and I can be exceedingly personal at times. I find it easier to write about my experiences than I do to sit and try and make something up, and by being honest I can (hopefully) avoid doing material that’s already been done (e.g. how many comics have a joke about wearing a red shirt at Target? How many crack wise about “Safe Lists” with their partners that go: “I had Jessica Alba on my list, she had her personal trainer on hers!”) Occasionally I’ll have a throwaway joke involving something topical, but you’re not going to catch me on stage these days making GW Bush jokes, something that makes me cringe since we’re so far removed from that time period.
My voice… that one’s tricky. I think a comedian’s voice is something that changes as he changes. When I started performing, I had just been cheated on and dumped. My humor was very dark back then. Now I’m married and have a child and I’m upbeat and happy. I think my voice and material is a reflection of wherever I’m at in life, and best case scenario it’s going to keep growing as my life keeps changing.
RT: You talk a lot about your wife in your comedy. What does she think of all this? Specifically, you doing stand-up, your material, mentioning her in your act? Is she supportive?
I got beyond lucky in my marriage. It’s a comedy cliché, I know, but I met her because of comedy. She was in the audience, heard me do a personal set about my family and upbringing, and felt “a connection” (her words). So, she knew what she was getting into; “OK, this idiot talks about his life on stage, and I’m in his life… I guess he’s going to talk about me now.”
Every so often she asks me to shitcan a joke for the evening, because her parents or grandparents or boss or someone is in the audience, and I respect and do that for her. But when I’m on the road, she generally has no qualms about what I’m saying. The people in the audience don’t know her, and will most likely never meet her, so there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Overall, she is beyond supportive. She has a Master’s Degree and swims in the business world, making me the yin to her yang and all that nonsense. We balance well.
RT: You go into great detail about your struggle to conceive. Have you found this opened you up to a different audience? Has the baby material led to any interesting opportunities?
Discussing infertility on stage has been… you have no idea how many people go through that struggle. I didn’t until I started talking about it on stage. When I would joke about trying to get pregnant, so many supportive people would share their story with me after the show. They would explain how long it took them, and in many cases have a very happy ending.
Now that my daughter is here, I’ve joined the cult of parenthood. It’s like buying a car; suddenly you notice the very model you bought everywhere. I had no idea how many people had kids until mine came along.
RT: Do you feel like comedy has taken on a new meaning as you’ve transitioned from a single man to now?
Unfortunately, yes. Comedy used to be me expressing myself; now there’s a business aspect to everything. When I was single and without responsibilities I could take anything offered; now I have to look at each one and do a cost-benefit analysis. Being a dad means you have to provide, and sometimes that means time over money. If after gas and food I’m not walking away with much, the extra day with my daughter becomes more important.
RT: As a new dad, how has the child impacted comedy for you?
When I was starting out, I watched people I found hilarious walk away from comedy because they got married and had a kid. I couldn’t wrap my head around it; I had no clue how anyone could leave the road behind. I’m nowhere near close to doing so myself, but now I get it. I get the longing, how much you miss your child when you’re away from them. It makes taking certain gigs or runs difficult; “OK, I don’t want to be gone for 3 weeks solid…”
RT: If you were to look back in 10 years, how would you want to remember this album?
Hopefully fondly. I’ve always loved the movie Bachelor Party, and I’d like to think Tom Hanks looks back on that film with a wry smile. It’s a drunken sex comedy involving nudity, drugs, prostitution… nothing you’d picture Oscar winner Tom Hanks in, but hey, there he is. If in 10 years I can look back at this and go, “Well, I sure talked about my wife’s naughty parts a lot, didn’t I?” and be OK with that, I’m good.
Buy Nathan’s new album Only Slightly Offensive
Keep up on all things Timmel at his website: nathantimmel.com
If I were this guy, I’d be making a run for the border. To a land of good Mexican food…Canada. Let’s be honest, disgruntled workers have been doing things far more disgusting to the fast-food you and I consume on a daily basis, for the last 50 years. Big whoop! But now that there’s proof, a social media nightmare has begun for the Chalupa slinging giant. Yo quiero a new job!